The academic advisors working at University of Oklahoma’s College of Arts & Sciences were operating behind the times. While the students were using technology in every aspect of their lives, the college’s academic services office—which handles more than 8,000 student records—was still hopelessly ensnared in a traditional paper system, says Rhonda Dean-Kyncl, assistant dean for academic services.
“These records include all of the documents associated with each student’s entire academic history; their high school transcripts, college/university transcripts, advising documents, email correspondence to and from the student, degree checks, disciplinary paperwork, etc.,” she explains, adding that accessing and managing all this information in a way that was efficient for both students and advisors had become “a total quagmire.”
Of particular concern were students on academic contract with the college. These students had fallen below the acceptable GPA for graduation, putting them at risk of suspension or dropping out—negatively impacting the college’s retention figures (“A critical measure of our success as an institution,” says Dean-Kyncl).
Laserfiche’s ECM system proved the solution, providing the college with a personal workflow system that moved them from paper to digital, solving their access and management issues for the advising staff. There have been additional benefits. They’ve cut their paper costs by 30 percent and greatly reduced their need for office supplies (some, such as pens, staples, binder clips, etc., are no longer necessary).
“We’ve eliminated our hard-copy file management system entirely,” says Dean-Kyncl. “Additionally, we no longer purchase file folders, file labels, and color toner for printing these labels.”
They’ve also done away with three hard-copy, physical mailings previously used to appraise students of their contract status, among other information. And now, students are cleared for graduation with a paperless process and all minor clearances are handled via Laserfiche, as well.
Overall, the technology has “revolutionized” their processes, says Dean-Kyncl, and there are more exciting changes ahead. They plan to start using Laserfiche Mobile, a free app for the iPhone and iPad that allows users to securely access and work with documents inside the Laserfiche repository from these devices.
Dean-Kyncl expects the academic counselors will begin using this app on their iPads by November, allowing them to remotely access records wherever they are, advising students in locations outside of their offices.
“Instead of asking the students to always come to us, we can meet them where they are,” says Dean-Kyncl. “This will completely change the way we do academic advising. Instead of being office-focused, the app makes us more student-focused. It’s a giant leap forward.”